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House okays Salceda’s bill on tax-free medical goods

The House of Representatives has approved Tuesday, Aug. 31, on third reading House Bill No. 8895, exempting critical medical supplies, including medical oxygen, from any and all taxes, following a request from President Duterte for Congress to pass such a measure.

The House approved the measure with 202 yes votes, and no negative votes or abstentions.

“We thank the House leadership, under Speaker Velasco, for passing this Presidential request urgently. The unanimity of the House in approving this measure shows our intent to help our medical frontliners with good policy,” Salceda said.

“The bill comes at a good time when we are in need of these critical supplies. This end-to-end exemption will help bolster our stock of critical supplies, such as medical oxygen,” Salceda cited.

The bill exempts the manufacture, importation, sale, and donation of critical medical supplies and essential goods during public health emergencies. The bill also mandates the Secretary of Health and Secretary of Finance to draw up the list of goods subject to exemption. The exemptions will require the declaration of a public health emergency by the President after December 2023, but will be in effect until then.

Critical medical products refer to vaccines and other necessary medicines to contain public health emergencies.

Essential goods refer to personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, gowns, masks, goggles, and face shields; surgical equipment and supplies; laboratory equipment and its reagents; medical equipment and devices; support and maintenance for laboratory and medical equipment, surgical equipment and supplies; medical supplies, tools, and consumables such as alcohols, sanitizers, tissue papers, thermometers, hand soaps, detergents, sodium hypochlorite, cleaning materials, povidone iodine; testing kits, and such other supplies or equipment as may be determined by the Department of Health (DOH) and other relevant government agencies.

The Secretary of Finance, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Health and the Secretary of Trade and Industry, may also suspend the threshold on required export sales for availment of privileges under Title XIII of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, to allow manufacturers to sell to the domestic market.

Salceda added that he hopes “the Senate will take this up as soon as it reaches them. I understand that there is near-unanimously positive sentiment from the Senate on this matter as well.”


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